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Sweden

Measuring heads

Last month I had the possibility to go visit my family, it was one of my best trips up there ever, especially since I thought it wouldn’t be possible until maybe next year. My mum and I did a roadtrip up to Tornedalen where my family comes from. We’re a minority and have been ashamed of our heritage for decades. I never learned the language for example. My dad got slapped at school by his teachers for not speaking Swedish. Last month was the first time I saw the town/village signs written in both Swedish and Meänkieli (the language which they speak up there). Because of being forced to speak Swedish, my relatives have a pretty poor vocabulary and that includes me. A conversation where I come from can sound like this: “So?” “So!” “So”. Could translate to “What’s going on?” “Not much” “OK” or one thousand other things. Growing up in Luleå – I was the trash from Tornedalen, mostly in my own head because that’s what I had always heard from the relatives – I don’t think the other kids saw it that way. Back in the days racial biology was allowed and measuring the heads of tornedalingar was a thing.

There are so many amazing and really popular novels coming out in Sweden since a couple of years, taking up this subject, teaching the southerners about our culture. I believe some of them will be translated to English as they are great reads in general.

We rode through Limingoån and I saw the empty land of what used to be Adolf’s house. We went to a waterfall I hadn’t seen since 1988, it’s called The bridal veil, I can imagine many people having their wedding pictures there. Mum (100% tornedaling) and I (approx 90% tornedaling, the other 10% are Belgian) took these pictures, me looking all happy with my oversized coat (don’t know what happened to my teeth, they aren’t brown irl) and her acting Wrist Worms model.

This was the first time we did something like this together; riding miles and miles, laughing in the car, taking silly pictures, having fika in Överkalix, eating pizza in Korpilombolo, visiting my aunt, walking into abandoned buildings cause the doors were unlocked, screaming Watch out for the reindeer when it was a plastic bag (which is a warning from the sami people that there might be reindeer crossing the streets). Talking about minority, the sami people had it even worse than tornedalingar.

I sometimes wonder if it was the shame of where I come from that drove me away from Sweden. I don’t think so, but maybe there’s a tiny bit of truth in there. My longing for something bigger has always been there; I mean bigger when it comes to the size of the city. That’s it for now, do you want to see some more pictures from our roadtrip? x

21 Comments

  • Jonna
    October 22, 2020 at 8:27 am

    Whaat, how have I missed this information?! I took an internet test just now to see how much I understand Meänkieli and I got 6/10 😀

    Reply
    • Sandra
      October 22, 2020 at 8:31 am

      Cool! You see – both Swedes and Finns don’t even know about this language, I hope to inform at least a few. So fun you took the test! xo

      Reply
      • Jonna
        October 23, 2020 at 11:41 am

        I think I’ve probably heard of it but not so that I’d really remember it. And I had no idea you were from that part of Sweden, so close to Finland.

        Reply
  • Karen Sofie
    October 22, 2020 at 8:30 am

    This is so interesting, I’d love to hear more about it. As a Dane, I’ve heard vague stories about the Finnish minorities in Sweden and the Sami people being badly treated but I’d love to hear more. Hope those books are translated into English. And how wonderful that you’re starting to talk about it in your family, that must hold a lot of power.
    Love from Copenhagen!

    Reply
    • Sandra
      October 22, 2020 at 8:33 am

      So cool that you’re interested! I will look for articles to share eventually cause I’m too uneducated and don’t want to spread false information so I should stick to only telling stories about the things I’ve experienced 🙂 thanks for reading, dear! xo

      Reply
      • Karen Sofie
        October 24, 2020 at 1:07 pm

        Sounds great, I’d love to hear more about your experience in this whole thing 🙂

        Reply
  • Linda
    October 22, 2020 at 9:39 am

    Så pinsamt att jag som Lulebo inte ens visste om det språket. Tack för att du berättar.

    Reply
    • Sandra
      October 27, 2020 at 9:04 am

      Visst är det galet att så få vet?

      Reply
  • ELENA (tropposquisito)
    October 22, 2020 at 9:47 am

    Glad to read you again. I’ve been pretty busy lately. I’m such an ignorant because I didn¡t know anything about tornedaling.

    I always wanted to live in a big city.

    Have a nice day !

    Reply
    • Sandra
      October 27, 2020 at 9:04 am

      Not even all people from my hometown (170 kilometers south) know about this mini world that I come from. I’m glad the topic is getting taken up more and more. Have a nice day, you too!

      Reply
  • Sara
    October 22, 2020 at 11:17 am

    Hi Sandra!
    Yes, please, more photos and stories.
    For me it’s interesting, as Spaniard, to know these kind of episodes, completely unknown here. We have had similar repression in different regions throughout s. XX.
    Have a great day!
    Sara

    Reply
    • Sandra
      October 27, 2020 at 9:05 am

      Thanks for reading, Sara.
      More pictures and stories will come 🙂

      Reply
  • Cristina
    October 22, 2020 at 12:25 pm

    Amazing history. This is so interesting. I didn’t knew that at all (I’m from Portugal). You could share more, please. So nice learn this things from people who lived them.

    Reply
    • Sandra
      October 27, 2020 at 9:05 am

      Will eventually post more stuff, it’s very time consuming to write these posts and right now I have so much work to do, but I really enjoy writing these posts. x

      Reply
  • Jenny
    October 22, 2020 at 4:40 pm

    I’d LOVE to see more pictures from your Sweden trip!! So sad and crazy that you were made to feel inferior. Is there a particular book on the Tornedalingars that you would recommend? As always, thank you for your wonderful words and pictures.

    Reply
    • Sandra
      October 27, 2020 at 9:06 am

      I just wrote a post with more information xo

      Reply
  • Isabelle Bertolini
    October 22, 2020 at 7:57 pm

    Beautiful, moving text.
    Thank you for educating me on something I never heard or read about before

    Reply
    • Sandra
      October 27, 2020 at 9:06 am

      Thank you for reading, Isabelle! <3

      Reply
  • Iveth
    October 23, 2020 at 12:06 am

    Thanks for sharing Sandra. I only hope that we all can become more aware of the struggle of minorities and be good allies. It’s about time.

    I was born in Mexico and I’m very ashamed of how we as a country treat our own minorities and specially the indigenous people.

    Reply
    • Sandra
      October 27, 2020 at 9:07 am

      It’s so horrible that it’s still going on, this world… so fucked up.
      Thanks for reading, dear <3

      Reply

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